Japanese researchers in Ritsumeikan University have built small, rolling "soft robots" that pull themselves along by shifting their shape. The wheels are fabricated from a flexible plastic with spokes made from shape memory alloy, a common robotics material that shortens when heated from current flowing through it. From a New Scientist article:
"The rolling robots perform well on flat surfaces and can even scale 20-degree slopes. By flattening itself as much as possible and then pinging back to a circular shape - driven by the elasticity of the outer rim - a robot can leap 8 centimetres into the air. The engineers say that by combining three wheels in a mutually perpendicular arrangement, it should be possible to build a ball-shaped, steerable robot."
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
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